UTSA basketball prepares for their Monday exhibition

Before flying west to open the regular season, UTSA Basketball opens their 2016-17 schedule with an exhibition game vs Arkansas Tech at the Convocation Center on Monday. InsideRunnerSports checked in at Thursday’s practice.

UTSA Basketball Practice Notes 11.3.16

High-Energy Practice: UTSA continued to practice with a frenetic pace as the ‘Runners prepared for the upcoming season. Head Coach Steve Henson on the Thursday’s practice: “We challenged them a little more today. I thought the energy the first hour was terrific and they maintained it.”

Rotation Not Set: Approximately eight to nine players rotated in and out with the first team. It’s hard to tell who will see the most minutes. Coach Henson says he plans on having a deep rotation at Monday's exhibition game. “It’s constantly evolving. We’re getting some ideas of combinations. We’re still not sure how many we’ll play. We’ve got guys earning some minutes right now. Monday night, I anticipate playing quite a few guys. Even early on, it’ll be a deep rotation, typically deeper than we’ll have in during the season.”

Emphasis on D: From the get go, Coach Henson and his staff have emphasized defensive improvement from last season. In just a few weeks of practice, there has been noticeable improvement. Henson on UTSA’s defense: “We told them today that they’ve taken steps. They’re figuring it out and the effort is there.”

Floor-Slapping Defense: One of the noticeable things you will see at a Roadrunners practice is that players on defense slap the floor when preparing to defend a play. Typically, flooring slapping is used as inspiration to really focus on a defensive possession. Coach Henson on floor-slapping: “It’s just readiness. You can look out there and see if a group is ready to play on each possession. If guys are slapping the floor, down low, talking, engaged, it’s just amazing the difference that makes.”

No Days Off: UTSA practiced Thursday to prepare for Monday’s exhibition vs Arkansas Tech. Typically the team will have an off day very few days in between practices. But Henson says the team plans to practice every day leading into the exhibition game. “It’ll be the longest stretch we go without a day off. So we’ve got to make sure we’re fresh for Monday. We want to get a gauge of where we’re at."

Cockrell Back: Forward AJ Cockrell returned to the floor after missing several weeks with a knee injury. Overall, Henson characterizes the health of his team as good. “AJ has taken big steps this last week getting more comfortable with his knee. Overall, I think we’re in pretty good shape health wise.”

Exhibition Game Goals: After Monday’s exhibition game, the Roadrunners will travel west to open the regular season vs Fresno State. Coach Henson says he’s hoping to the improvement the team has had in practice will translate into the game. “I’d like to see the progress we’ve made defensively. It’s one thing to touch the floor in practice, it’s another thing to get down and fight in the flow of a game. Offensively, we’ve been trying to promote more attack.”

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